The Passover Meal, Northern Spain
The Passover Meal,
Northern Spain
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Matzoh Ball Soup



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“Yes, this is quite a bother to make… but there is nothing more
 comforting to eat. This isn’t tribal sentiment; for all that it’s known
as Jewish Penicillin, I wasn’t raised on it, but eating it makes me
feel I should have been, that indeed we all should have been.”

~ Nigella Lawson, on Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls,
in “Nigella Bites”

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Preparations for the Passover Rtol, Ttob, Miriam and Her Maidens Play, Sing and Dance
Preparations for the Passover
Rtol, Ttob, Miriam and Her
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Jewish Passover, from Provins
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The Passover Meal
The Passover Meal
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La Belle Cuisine


Okay. I give up. Have to bite the bullet, take the plunge. One of those nagging thoughts that just will not go away, no matter how hard you may try to ignore it:
La Belle Cuisine has no Jewish recipes! (Well, very few, anyway.) Oy weh!
Please understand where we are coming from. This is not an oversight, nor is it a decision on our part to ignore the Jewish contribution to the culinary world (God forbid!) It is, rather, a decision based on our lack of personal experience, lack of knowledge, and lack of research material on the Jewish kitchen. Would that we
had that experience and knowledge! Not to mention the fact that a simple thing
like a matzoh ball (also known as Knaidlach) can be just as controversial as whose potato salad is the best. We know from gumbo, jambalaya and fried chicken. We
do not know from gefilte fish, matzoh balls and kreplach, but we are learning!


Arthur Schwartz's Matzoh Balls For Starchefs

 Matzoh balls are one of the culinary mysteries of the universe.

"What make them heavy? What makes them light? These are questions right up
there with “Why does my cheesecake crack? I can list the answers, specify the ingredients, outline the procedures, and reveal all the tricks, and you may still
not get the result you desire, whatever that desired result may be. Every family
has a different idea about the perfect matzoh ball. In any case, it is just one of
those things for which you have to have a hand, either innate or learned, and
perhaps the right spiritual and emotional vibrations.
I say this as one Jewish cook who does not have the hand. Only once to my
knowledge have I actually served terrible (by my family's standards) matzo
balls, but that’s only because I've managed to toss out all the failed attempts
before anyone could taste them.
Then there was this situation just a few years ago when I made Someone Else's Revolutionary Matzoh Ball Recipe. Out of duty to my listeners, I felt I had to
test this bizarre recipe from a Long Island restaurateur who is famous for his
matzoh balls. The man doesn't as much as scramble an egg for himself the rest
of the year, but on Passover he makes hundreds of matzoh balls for his restau-
rant customers. My version of his matzoh balls -- stupidly tested on the night of
the first Seder -- were gross, a disaster. The matzoh ball moment at our seder
was only an hour or so away and all I had were amorphous blobs of matzoh
gruel. There was nothing else to do but quickly whip up a batch according
to my old, more standard, and reasonably reliable recipe (the one that has
been on the back of the matzoh meal box for most of this century) and pray
that they would be fine even though I was breaking the number one cardinal
rule of matzoh ball cookery. That is: let the batter rest in the refrigerator for
at least an hour, preferably for several hours, or, optimally, all day. This time
my batter sat for only as long as it took me to eat one piece of gefilte fish; let’s
say 10 minutes. (It was a big piece of fish.) In the end, these were the best
matzoh balls I’ve ever made: Perfectly shaped, light. Go know."

Traditional Matzoh Balls

4 eggs
1/2 cup seltzer
4 to 6 tablespoons melted (but not hot)
chicken fat or
a combination of chicken fat and
vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 cup matzoh meal

1. With a table fork, beat the eggs until well blended.
2. Stir in the seltzer, the schmaltz (or the schmaltz and oil), and the salt
and pepper.
3. Gradually stir in the matzoh meal. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1
hour, or preferably longer.
4. Bring a large quantity of water to a gentle boil in a very wide and deep
pot with a cover; one with enough surface so that when the balls ex-
pand and float to the top, there will be only one layer of balls -- and
not crowded at that. I use an old-fashioned covered roaster placed
over two burners.
5. Using about 2 tablespoons of the chilled batter for each matzoh ball, and keeping your hands moist with cold water (for convenience, I keep a
bowl of cold water next to me as I work), gingerly roll the batter be-
tween the palms of your hands into neat balls. As you form the balls,
drop them into the boiling water.
6. When all the balls are in the pot, cover the pot, adjust the heat so the
water simmers briskly, and cook the matzoh balls for 30 minutes.
They will double in size and float to the top.
7. Remove the matzoh balls from the water with a slotted spoon and
serve in hot chicken soup.

 Ahead of time note: I have never frozen matzoh balls, or made them ahead of
time and let them sit for more than an hour or so, but some people say that
they do both and that they’re fine. I have no idea how New York’s Jewish
delicatessens keep theirs in such fine form for an entire day, and I’ll bet I
wouldn't enjoy them as much if I did know. There are some things better
left unsaid.

Copyright 1998 StarChefs All rights reserved.


(Matzoh Balls)

From My Mother's Kitchen:
Recipes and Reminiscences

by Mimi Sheraton 1979 HarperCollins


“Although matzoh balls were usually served in soup, we were always
happy to have leftovers, cooked and kept in the refrigerator, then sliced
and fried in butter the next morning for breakfast. The result is not
unlike semolina gnocchi.”

Makes 10 to 12 large matzoh balls

3 eggs
6 tablespoons cold water
3 heaping teaspoons schmaltz
(rendered chicken fat), solidified
Pinch of white pepper
2/3 to 3/4 cup matzoh meal
2 1/2 to 3 quarts water

Beat the eggs lightly with cold water. Add the chicken fat and stir until the
fat dissolves. Add 1/2  teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Gradually beat
in the matzoh meal, 2 tablespoons at a time, proceeding slowly as it thickens
so you do not add too much. The mixture should be as thick as light mashed
potatoes, and just a little soft and spongy. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Chill for 5 to 7 hours.
Half an hour before serving time, bring 2 1/2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add a handful of salt, as for pasta. With wet hands, or two tablespoons
dipped intermittently in cold water, shape the mixture into balls about 1
inch in diameter. Drop gently into the boiling water, cover pot loosely,
and let boil at a moderately brisk pace for about 25 minutes.
When one ball tests done (cut it open and see if it is light and cooked all
the way through), remove all carefully with a slotted spoon. Serve in hot
chicken soup.

Variation: To make fried matzoh balls, chill the cooked balls overnight. In the morning, cut into slices between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick and fry slowly in hot
butter or margarine, turning so both sides become golden brown and the
slices are thoroughly heated.

Note: For those who observe kosher dietary laws, it will be necessary either
to fry the prepared matzoh balls in chicken fat or margarine, or to substitute
melted and resolidified butter for the chicken fat when making the matzoh
balls. If the latter is done, they can then be fried in butter, but they may not
be used in chicken soup.

Matzoh Ball Soup continued - the soup!

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